Many of us want more of God but not to the point of being ridiculed. Our Western minds think, “I will serve the Lord, but I will remain in control.” But that is not how the Church began. The Church began with Spirit-controlled Christians who yielded themselves to God. That’s radical, yes, but that’s the way the Lord did it.
Some might say, “Yeah, but we’ve improved upon that New Testament style of Christianity.” If so, I want to see the spiritual fruit our improvements have produced. People may have mocked those first, “unsophisticated” Christians, but thousands got saved in the first four chapters of Acts. The Word of God was treasured. The churches were filled with sacrificial love. A holy excitement pervaded the atmosphere. Have we really improved upon that?
In Acts 2, while the disciples gathered in one place, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in languages they didn’t know. I don’t want to debate speaking in tongues, but I want to point out that when the Spirit came upon them, they immediately began to do something they could not do naturally. “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: ‘Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?’” (Acts 2:6-8).
The disciples were speaking in actual languages they did not know. They were doing something that could have no other explanation than that God was the source. An undeniable expression of Spirit-controlled living is that we will be lifted above the limitations of mere natural talents and abilities.
The irony of Spirit-filled living is that we have to give up power in order to gain a greater power. How many times have you had trouble doing something, so you just tried harder? Have you ever tried harder to have the self-discipline to read your Bible more or pray longer? To love an unlovely person? To be bold when you felt afraid? How did that work out for you?
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.